I want to share with you my love of Life and Travel. My parents taught me to appreciate both, but more importantly, they taught me to be CIVIL and Respectful of others while enjoying this Great Universe we all share!
My husband, Justin, and I moved from New York City to be closer to my parents and siblings. In 2009, my sister gave birth to her second child, Emerson, who was diagnosed with Prader Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic disease. I choose to give up my life as a “City Girl” to be a “Pillar of Support” for my sister and my family.
I have dedicated our first restaurant, Oliva, to my niece, sweet little Emerson Lynn.
I grew up in southern Illinois learning service and hospitality under the most influential of teachers – my father.
He was not only my school principal by day but also a waiter by night, and as a ‘bus person’ under his tutelage I adopted his uncompromising attention to detail and a steadfast work ethic.
After graduating from Boston College Summa Cum Laude, I took my first management position at Busby’s in New York City. It was a great beginning, but I eventually moved to Switzerland to study the French language and work in a restaurant in Geneva. From there I gained experience in the kitchen as an assistant chef in the village of Hermance. Missing the “front of the house”, I was hired by Azimor Inc, as Director of Operations. In this capacity, I helped the company grow rapidly, opening seven restaurants for the group from 1996 – 2002, while overseeing two existing properties.
Returning to New York, I worked for the acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten as general manager of JoJo, his first restaurant. From there I moved to Grapevine, TX, and opened Old Hickory, the steak house of the Gaylord Texan Resort, the largest resort and spa in Texas. I was the company’s first female general manager.
However, I was not finished with New York. The city’s food and wine scene beckoned me, this time on the wholesale side as a sales representative for a French wine company and later in retail as the general manager of a wine shop on the Upper East Side. With a new notch in my belt and much wine knowledge, I returned to the restaurant world to help a dear friend at Allegretti, a Southern French restaurant in the heart of Manhattan. During these years in New York I was hired by Martha Stewart to cater her personal and private events. Ms. Stewart considered me her personal sommelier.
Now in Texas, I focus on family and fun. In 2010 my husband and I opened Oliva Italian Eatery, where we combine all our experiences with food, wine, service, and hospitality to provide our clients with a memorable dining experience. Then, in 2013 we opened Elote Mexican Kitchen. A little Taqueria with a lot of class. Oliva and Elote has allowed us to expand our knowledge and here we will share it with YOU!